Markets with no one at the controls, farmers without income, and payments without justice: the European Union must outline future prospects for farmers and for young people who want to go into farming.
- The actual proposals don’t reflect the objective of a better social and environmental legitimacy of direct payments.
- The absence of market and of production regulation foreshadows new sectoral crises.
- National cheques replace a true, fair, social and sustainable CAP for farmers and consumers.
The European Commission announced it as early as November (1): in spite of the aggravation of the global crises and of the challenges faced by European agriculture, it would not change the neoliberal framework in which the CAP has operated for the past 30 years . The decision to leave the markets in the hands of speculation shows that our European institutions obey other interests than those of farmers and consumers.
Although the Commission’s proposal with regard to the markets is not surprising, the European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) is nonetheless astonished that the advances announced for a better distribution and use of direct payments have not been translated into credible concrete proposals. There is little left of the praiseworthy objectives for ceilings, greening, support for small-scale farmers, active farmers, and so on.
In the coming months ECVC will be active at the European Parliament and the Council, which co-decide on the CAP reform, and also at the European commission, to modify the contents of these proposals in order to create a coherent framework for agricultural policy and to guarantee worthy and sustainable prospects for millions of European farmers.
Below you will find our point of view on some key points of the proposal (2):
(1) See ECVC position on 11/19/10 http://www.eurovia.org/spip.php?article396
(2) ECVC will publish a more detailed analysis and proposal later in the autumn
Geneviève Savigny (FR-EN) +33 625551687 - Javier Sanchez (ES) +34 609 35 93 80
Gérard Choplin, Bxl team (FR-EN-DE) +32 473257378 Marzia Rezzin, Bxl team (IT-FR-EN) + 32 473 300 156
Markets and production without regulation: Repeated agricultural sectoral crises have shown that without regulation of production and of the markets, without instruments to prevent structural surpluses or shortages, it is not possible to stabilize the markets. Although this stabilization is one of the priorities given to the CAP by the treaty of Lisbon, nothing in the Commission’s proposal works in that direction. On the contrary, the proposal merely defends the interests of industry, large retailers and the import-export sector.
To treat price volatility only downstream through insurance schemes amounts to the privatization of the management of the markets and the public funding of insurance companies, while making producers and taxpayers pay for the damages of deregulation.
ECVC is opposed to the suppression of vine plantation rights in 2016, which would only concentrate production even further- moreover the wine Member States are opposed to this ban. The same applies to the suppression of sugar quotas and dairy quotas, which need to be improved rather than eliminated. Supply management, for all sectors, is a requirement for the stabilization of the markets and for fair and reasonably stable farm prices.
Active farmers: Direct payments should be restricted to active farmers, but the definition proposed by the Commission is too lax. The suggested 5% threshold must be raised.
Payment per ha: ECVC rejects the payment per ha and defends the payment per active person. Dropping the historical reference is positive, but the date of 2019 is too distant: it is an additional gift to those who have carried off all the payments since 1992. The payment per ha, decoupled from production, has perverse effects on the price of agricultural land and leads to income for the owners.
Caps on direct payments: this is essential. But the proposed ceilings are too high. The recovered amount would be very low (3). The EP and the Council must lower these ceilings, to release more funds in favour of small-scale farms and less favoured areas or sectors.
Lump sum for small-scale farms: It is positive that this support is proposed in the first pillar. But by proposing that small farmers choose between a small lump sum - in settlement for the first pillar - and the system of direct payment, the Commission is treating small-scale farms separately, instead of integrating them into the same system as the others, i.e. an evolutionary system. In addition ECVC is awaiting the implementation of specific standards for the small-scale processing of agricultural products, at the farm or local craftsman’s. Industrial standards are for industry.
A far too insignificant “greening” for the scope of the problems : ECVC was expecting more significant progress in favour of an agriculture that requires less inputs and energy, that halts the drop in organic matter in the soil thereby contributing to the decrease of global warming, and also halts the development of factory farms (pigs, poultry, milk, rabbits, etc) and other overly intensive modes of production, as in wine, fruits & vegetables, etc.
o Diversity of cultures: compulsory rotation, which ECVC and many other organizations had demanded in order to decrease inputs and improve soils, has been forgotten and replaced by very low thresholds of diversity of cultures: farms could develop monocultures on 70% of their surfaces. This is aberrant, especially as the reform is planned for 6 years, making it possible to check the rotation.
o Permanent meadows: the prohibition to turn over permanent meadows is positive, but the selected date of reference (1.1.2014) could lead to a great reversal of meadows before this date, which runs counter to the objective. In addition this measure does not increase the surface of permanent meadows, as currently needed by the soil, the climate, and biodiversity.
o Plant proteins: considering that the EU is dependent for 75% on imports, that the advantage of these crops for soil fertility and for the climate has long been recognized, and that the EP requested it, it is scandalous that the Commission has not integrated into the greening an obligation to rotate that includes leguminous plants, wherever these can be cultivated.
Rural development: Although the proposed objectives conjure up interesting possibilities, in particular for collective projects, one remains concerned about the interpretation and implementation which could be made by various countries and regions. Who are the “stakeholders” who will be invited to contribute to the diagnoses and regional programming? How do you guarantee that the real issues are taken into account? How do you avoid funds being poached by industrialized farming?
(3) 0.2% of the total basic payment for Germany and only 1.3% for the EU-27.
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